Beebe Healthcare is postponing all “non-emergent” (elective) procedures effective Thursday, citing a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations and a staff shortage.
Previously, Beebe, which serves Coastal Sussex County and adjacent areas, only postponed elective procedures that required an overnight stay.
“Right now, it’s more difficult than ever to deliver healthcare,” said David A. Tam, MD, CEO, Beebe Healthcare. “Our emergency departments and hospital are past capacity. We are making operational adjustments to keep up with the growing demand for healthcare in Sussex County, but this is not sustainable.”
Beebe and other hospitals are squeezed by both serious cases of the virus and people who can be discharged but cannot find a bed for rehab or other care.
Certain procedures and surgeries will continue, including those that screen for progressive diseases such as cancer that could have long-term consequences if not identified for patients. Examples include colonoscopies, biopsies, and endoscopies, as well as access to dialysis.
Patients will be contacted by their surgeon’s office.
Beebe is not yet at the stage where we are forced to adopt Crisis Standards of Care that is now in place at other hospital systems in the state.
“However, the situation is critical and can change at any moment. Omicron, for those who are vaccinated and received a booster, tend to present milder symptoms. But this is not what Beebe is seeing in the hospital for those who are unvaccinated,” a release stated.
Word of Omicron being milder than the Delta variant has reportedly led some to attempt to contract the disease, a dangerous activity, according to health care experts.
Also on the increase are Covid-19 cases among children.
“People are very sick. This is a heartfelt ask to our community to assist us during this unmatched surge,” Tam said. “The fluid nature of this pandemic, the plateauing of vaccinated people in our community, and the national staffing shortage, all combine to make it extremely difficult to predict when we could move into another standard of care.
Tam continued, “We are concerned for our community, our patients, and our staff. The situation is serious. It is critical that you wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds, keep your distance, and get vaccinated and boosted. We implore you, again, to understand and take action. Please. The time is now.”